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The Rotary Club of Woking - A Brief History


On the9th March 1922 several of the leading commercial and professional men of Woking gathered in the Rendezvous Restaurant in Woking to discuss the formation of a Rotary Club. Guest Rotarians including Mr V Carter, Secretary of the British Association of Rotary Clubs, were also present. After listening to the guest Rotarians describe their experiences of Rotary, and Mr Carter on the organisation of Clubs, it was resolved that a Rotary Club be formed in Woking. A sub-committee was established to draw up a suitable list of classifications (trades or professions) and a list of prospective members. At a further meeting held on 23rd March the lists were approved and 15 invitations to join the new Club were issued. All but two of the invitees agreed to join the Club.

The Club’s inaugural dinner was held at the Albion Hotel (opposite the town entrance to Woking Station) on 28th April 1922 and the first Club meeting was then held on 12th May 1922, again at the Albion Hotel. At that meeting Dr John Laurie was elected as first President of the Club and it was resolved that the Club would meet on the 2nd and 4th Fridays of each month at the Rendezvous Restaurant. Three months later the Club received its official Charter from Rotary International showing it to be Rotary Club no. 1249 (at that time Clubs were numbered on a worldwide basis).

The outbreak of World War II was virtually ignored in the Club’s minutes. The minutes for the war years do however indicate the nature of the organisations and causes supported by the Club during the war. Many members had military or civilian duties but nevertheless attendance rules were strictly enforced and those members who were unable to attend meetings regularly were asked to resign.

In September 1951 the Woking Club entertained the Bruges Club largely as a result of the personal connections of certain members with Bruges members. There followed regular contact between the two Clubs culminating in the twinning of the Clubs in 1956.

The Club remained a single gender Club until early 2000 when the members voted that it should be dual gender. Shortly after that vote the Club admitted its first lady member and three years ago had its first lady President.

Over the years the Club has met at different venues in Woking but principally at the Albion Hotel until it was taken over for redevelopment by Norwich Union in the summer of 1962. Thereafter venues have included the Cotteridge Hotel (later known as the Litten Tree), the Conservative Club and Hoebridge Golf Club (where it remains based after moving there in March 2003). Club meetings were originally held fortnightly but in March 1942 the members resolved that the Club should ‘meet weekly at luncheon’. Since then the Club has met weekly at lunchtime on a Monday except on Bank Holiday Mondays.

MT April 2012: compiled from Club Archives